Chiarelli joins Bruins five days ahead of schedule

Updated: July 11, 2006, 2:55 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Peter Chiarelli was still working for Ottawa when Senators free agent Zdeno Chara agreed to terms with Boston. The soon-to-be Bruins general manager was able to keep his glee to himself.

"I'm in a room with a couple of other guys," he said. "It was interesting, to say the least."

Chiarelli, who was hired as the Bruins GM in May but had to serve out his term in Ottawa, was released from his obligations with the Senators on Monday -- five days early -- and cleared to take over the struggling Original Six franchise.

The Bruins made the official announcement on Tuesday. Among the things he wants to do first are study the Bruins' restricted free agents.

"I hope to get moving on that pretty quick," he said, adding that he also needs to fill out new coach Dave Lewis' staff and the scouting department. "It is a little late in the hiring season."

The Bruins hired Chiarelli on May 26 to replace interim GM Jeff Gorton, but the NHL ruled that Chiarelli couldn't start until July 15. That left Gorton running Boston's draft and signing high-profile free agents such as Chara without being able to consult with the new boss.

Chiarelli's main responsibility in Ottawa was training his replacement. He wasn't in the Senators' draft room when players were being picked, and he wasn't involved in negotiating with any major free agents.

"The tasks that I had with the Senators got progressively less significant," he said. "They came to me on Friday, and they decided my things I had done there in the transition were sufficient. They were satisfied with where my replacement was."

So the Senators cut him loose early.

"You can't help but think about your future team," he said. "I don't see us as behind as much as being ahead. We've got some work to do, but we've made a couple big signings. I like the position we're in."

Chiarelli hasn't even met with a lot of the people in the front office who will be working for him. But he's already given Gorton a vote of confidence, having watched from afar as the Bruins wrapped up a flurry of signings over the Fourth of July weekend.

The biggest -- literally -- was the 6-foot-9 Chara, one of the prize players on the market.

"I was excited," Chiarelli said. "I was surprised, but I was excited. I think it's a tremendous acquisition. Zdeno is a tremendous player, a large, shutdown type of player."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press